Our lead stories this week are on face value about very contrasting companies. But together they spell out a dismal message about what the UK market is offering British games firms.
So what does the ailing boxed game retailer have in common with the small publisher finding an audience on the Japanese PSN? It’s this: The games market in the UK is now such a struggle it’s forcing many to run away and find other oil wells to tap into.
Sometimes that’s not just figuratively – HMV focusing its efforts on technology or System 3 cracking Japan is in the same vein as Rising Star Games going to America and Mind Candy turning Moshi Monsters into a phenomenon through merchandise, not more software. What’s driving these firms to look further afield? Maybe it’s diversification, or other bollocksy buzzwords that only work to describe something after it’s happened.
Here’s hoping it’s not just because they think the local market is in the gutter – because there’s more to this market than just a Chart-Track statistics telling us that games were worth ‘just’ £1.42bn in 2011.
And next week, I am going to bloody prove it.
THQ HATERS: CALM DOWN
This year everyone suddenly seems to have an opinion on THQ. Do they smell blood? Or just see an easy punchbag?
Certainly, things haven’t been ideal for the publisher in 2012 so far. In mid-Jan dumb (and apparently ill-founded) rumours claimed the firm had cancelled a load of games not even due for two years; a week later it confirmed it was ditching kids games; and this week NASDAQ threatened it with stock market delisting.
Bit of a tumult, then.But THQ can survive this. Its plan to knuckle down on core IP is sound, if behind the curve. Contemporaries EA, Activision and Take-Two all adopted this strategy long ago. Yet brands like Saints Row, Homefront, WWE and UFC make for a respectable portfolio, managed right.
The argument of course is if THQ will survive. And the cynics are regularly questioning said management of said brands.
But surely at this point most should give it some benefit of the doubt? For any firm, the transition from one form to another – physical to digital, or one audience to another – can be painful. But not necessarily fatal.